We Christians know that God desires that all come to faith in Him. (1 Timothy 2:4) But right after He told them the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3b-9), His disciples ask Him why He talks to the crowds in parables.
Jesus told them that He shares things with His disciples that He doesn't with others. He tells them that just after He identifies believers as His true family. (Matthew 12: 46-50) In fact, He even promises more understanding for His disciples but also that He will even take away understanding from those who do not believe in Him! (Matthew 13:11-17).
Jesus tells about a sower of seed and some of the seed (the Word of God) falls on the path and is quickly snatched away. The Word never takes root. This first case reminds us of the parents who claim that they want their children "to make up their own minds about religion", but those parents are actually "forcing their religion" on their children more than anyone. They preach to their children that truth is a human construction and/or can be discerned by them alone. The parents practice the religion of self-worship. A good God never hides Himself from His creation. But those who insist on themselves are blinded from God's revelation by the false god of this darkened age. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
Next, Jesus says that some of the Word falls on hard ground with shallow roots, i.e., reliance on emotions or when people are dismayed by their own sinfulness, they become discouraged and fall away. Thirdly, the Word also is choked off by distractions of worldly concerns, such as wealth protection or paying the rent, and/or listening to the world regarding what is moral and immoral.
For many, it is startling to think that Jesus hides truth from some. But the Word of God delivers not only salvation but judgment. Isaiah asked how long he should continue to tell the Israelites to repent. God replied, "Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste." In other word, Isaiah was to deliver the Word of God which saves the remnant, but condemns those who reject Him. (Isaiah 6:8-13)
For those who love the Lord, that makes perfect sense. God is righteous and good and no denial from humans will change His rule over His creation. He saves His children. But remember that He also hardened the heart of Pharaoh and then defeated him to let God's chosen people know that it was His power and goodness that freed the Israelites from slavery. (Exodus 6:7) Believers can see that His Word brings judgment here today.
Why some believe but others reject Him is hidden from all in this temporal life. We, too, would like them in His family. His children see His cross of good grace that has forgiven all their sins. That explains the smiles on faces of some hospital patients and nursing home residents. Their bodies may be frail from aging--a curse from the Fall--but their hearts have been cultivated and are thorn-free from worry. A lifetime of hearing His Word has revealed their eternal Father, Brother, and Holy Spirit--one God, now and evermore. Gloria Deo--Glory to God.
Rev. Timothy Matthew
is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran
Church in Kennett.